Confessions of a J-Pop Culture Junkie


kay, exams are over, the academic year has ended, I put up a vacation message on my “official” school e-mail–I am away during break, and will not access my e-mail. Your message regarding $subject$ will be read when I return.–and I am officially free to do… my work. Yes, as an academic, I am expected to do research, expecially when I don’t teach.

But unlike teaching, I can do my research at my own pace so I hope to spend more time on Xanga. It’s been so long… but now I can play! And Merrow Mistral has started me off with a game of tag. The RULES state that:

Once you’ve been tagged, you have to write a blog with 8 facts/things/habits about yourself, saying who tagged you. In the end you need to choose the 6 people to be tagged and list their names. No tag backs.

Okay, that sounds easy enough, but I think most of my readers already know a lot about me. What could I reveal about myself? Maybe some of the more recent things that occupy (monopolize) my time.

  1. Research. I’ve already alluded to this above. Yes, I teach a relatively large number of students. According to friends and colleagues at other major universities, most are responsible for about 30 to 40 students per semester. That would be like two courses with 25 and 15 students repectively. This past spring, I had a total of 94 students. So it is a bit difficult to conduct research during the school year. During the summer, I usually teach as well–instructors in the humanities do not command high salaries–but I decided to forego the extra cash and do research. A colleague finally convinced me that this is better in the long run. The extra dough teaching summer courses is just that–Extra. Succssful publishing can lead to a better salary, which is always a good thing. I guess I am so thick-headed that it took me… oh, 10 years to finally unerstand this. In my defense, this is genetic. My old man was just as thick. But I must confess that I really put a lot of this on myself–Why the hell am I going to tell you guys this?
  2. I am a J-Pop junkie. Okay, I said it… I use the term in its most broadest sense. This allows me to assuage my attitude toward my addiction.
  3. I watch all sorts of J-films. As many of you know, I teach a Japanese film class. As the responsible instructor I am, I make it a point to see as many Japanese films as possible so I have a larger pool of films to draw upon to show my students in class. I watch samurai flicks like Twilight Samurai and Zatoichi. Indeed, I showed Samurai Fiction this past semester. I also watch mainstream dramas as well, such as the Birdmen of China–a very intersting movie. But just to make sure I have a good grasp of the field, I watch horror flicks, including Ring, the wierd Suicide Club–the openning scene deals with a group of junior highs school girls jumping off the platform before an oncoming train–and the insipid Uzumaki. And I also watch animation… because I’m supposed to. It’s my job, okay?
  4. I read Japanese comic books. Now the Japanese are the most literate people in the world, and they love comic books. Coincidence? I think not, although the likes of Reischauer will tell you that this is the sad part of Japanese literacy. Well, much of medieval and Edo literature were a combination of text and pictures, sort of like… graphic novels. Many scholars resarch this as classical literature. Can you imagine Slam Dunk or Dragon Ball being someone’s PhD dissertation in 2098? In any event, you should know that much of the current texts in Japan are based on comic books. Many popular TV shows and films are based on comic books. Indeed, Slam Dunk and Tokyo Love Story were adapted to full length novels. So staying up with comic book stories is necessary, if only to know where some of the films I watch originated from. What can I say? It’s my job.
  5. I listen to a lot of J-Pop music. I used to use some songs to teach Japanese, reading the lyrics like poetry. But living in the US for 10 years, my stock of music was quite outdated. Last year, a student doing a junior year abroad in Japan sent me some current J-Pop. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed listening to songs that were not readily available in the US. Takunishi further piqued my interest by making songs like Bennie K’s “Dreamland” and m-flo’s “Replay” available on his Xanga. Now, I can’t get enough. Students know my interest and freely share their CDs and mp3 files with me.
  6. It is not just J-Pop. In fact, except for some notable exceptions, I stay away from typical fare and listen to either rock or indendent groups. No News or Arashi or Koda Kumi or Do As Infinity or *gag* Utada Hikaru for me. And I also stay away from the Visual-kei groups like L’arc and Glay. I listen to Asian Kungfu Generation and Art School and Merengue and Ego Wrappin’ and Monkey Majik and Bonnie Pink and Sambomasters. Okay, I also listen to the Brilliant Green and Nakashima Mika. But they aren’t exactly mainstream J-Pop either.
  7. I can’t get enough of J-dorama. Another illness I have contracted was begun by an aquaintance of M’s. She kept telling M about how this drama was funny or that drama sad. Well, we went to Lotte, the local Korean market, and lo and behold–J-dorama. We rented “Umizaru” (Sea Monkeys) which was about the Japanese coast guard. I tickled our interest and so we then rented “Brother Beat”, then the Taiga drama “Yoshitsune”. But I was in control. Watch an episode every other night, or if it was interesting maybe once a night. But then a student gave me a copy of D-d-d-d-d-densha otoko (Trainman). Ack! It was so funny that I couldn’t stop watching it. There were 11 episodes and I saw the first nine in one day! Well, this was the beginning of the end for me. J-dorama is crack to Japanese pop culture freaks–Anego, Kiken-na aneki, Dragon-zakura, Las Christmas, Kuitan, Slow Dance, et cetera. I’ve received dorama from students, we’ve rented more from Lotte, M gets some from her acquaintance. It seems like the more I watch it, the more I want to see more.
  8. J-dorama + J-Pop = Geek. I know that this sounds really pathetic. You’re probably thinking that the O-man has gone off the deep end, that he is really sick. Well, it gets worse. Remember I said that I mostly listen to J rock or indies? Well, I sorta lied. I do listen to a significant number of J Pop, as well… if it’s the theme song to a J-dorama. Hahahaha! Def Tech’s “My Way” from Brother Beat, Yama-P’s “Colorful” from Dragon-zakura, Sowelu’s “Dear Friend” from Top Newscaster, Hirai Ken’s “Pop Star” from Kiken-na aneki. My playlist for JUST dorama theme songs and image songs is quite long. I am a freak! I am a geek!

Does anyone have the number to JPA (J-Pop Anonymous)?

Well, I have not been very good at keeping in touch with my readers recently, like for the last year or so. So I feel kinda wierd about tagging them, but I think will try to do something different. I think I will tag some non-Xangans I know through RBJ. Here’s hoping the following six will play tag with me…

aemii pari grace manny carlos sammy